Communities across Stirling continue to feel the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Businesses have worked tirelessly to adhere to public health guidance, and their compliance to safeguarding their customers is laudable.
Whilst regrettably many have had to close their doors during the new lockdown, at their core these businesses remain viable.
As politicians and policymakers, we have a clear duty to ensure businesses and employees are safeguarded during this pandemic too, and there’s a functioning economy to re-open when possible.
The Chancellor has heeded calls for action before; and he must do so again, with increased urgency.
The combined economic impacts from Brexit and Covid risk creating a perfect storm across these islands, especially for young people and graduates entering into the world of work.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson must join Chancellor Rishi Sunak to come before Parliament and set out fresh measures to safeguard the economy, businesses, jobs and people’s incomes. My constituents and communities right across Stirling expect no less.
The SNP and I are calling for any future package to include:
- Bringing forward a £98bn support package – which is on par with recovery support provided by other countries such as New Zealand, France and Germany
- Extending the furlough scheme and other coronavirus income support schemes for as long as necessary – rather than setting arbitrary deadlines – and delivering support for the three million people currently excluded, including the self-employed
- Reversing the Tories’ public sector pay freeze
- Making the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent and extending it to legacy benefits
- And, devolving financial powers to Holyrood so that the Scottish Government can take the necessary steps to protect jobs and people’s livelihoods.
With Brexit alone, Scottish Government analysis estimates a 6.1% hit to Scotland’s GDP by 2030 due to the Tory Government’s Brexit deal, equivalent to £1600 for every person, when compared to EU membership.
Time is fast running out, and the longer the UK Government delays, the deeper the economic damage will be. Business and households need further help to weather the Covid storm, and they need it now.
Scotland continues to fight this pandemic with one hand tied behind its’ back.
Imposing a Hard Brexit in amidst the chaos of a generational pandemic such as this has been sheer incompetence, but I urge the UK Government to act now to tackle the virus, assist businesses, workers and incomes, and take urgent steps to address this growing crisis.